An interview with Mancsy, Manchester’s most generous mystery street artist

Mancsy interview for Dadsdayoff

Mancsy: The Manchester Banksy – a Q&A

Introducing Mancsy, Manchester’s very own mysterious Banksy-like artist in residence, who buzzes around town like the city’s iconic bee, leaving gifts of art for people to find.

Mancsy’s Q & A provides a fascinating insight into the motivation behind the work.

Mancsy also reveals a new project drawing portraits, including one of the city’s most iconic figures. Read on to find out more…

1. Who is Mancsy and would I know you?

Mancsy is your average Mancunian, proud of his city and standing tall. I knock about the city with no disguise, other than the fact I blend into the crowd.

2. How would you describe what you do to an older relative?

I make screen prints each month and put them up around the streets of Manchester and people find them.

3. Your name has a familiar ring to it – what was your inspiration?

Started as a bit of a joke really, quite often like most things I do. I come up with an idea that amuses me and then decide to put into action. I’d seen the monkey on Oldham street that my brother Banksy had done years ago, I’ve got photos of it somewhere. When I was thinking about the tag I considered pigeons but then thought there was only one option in Manchester. I was down the back of Dry Bar thinking about the Hacienda and hazard stripes and my bee was born.

4. Are you local or someone else who came here to study and stayed.

Local. I know these streets before the trendies came along. Although I welcome all to our Mancunian hive.

5. Is this (your art) your day job, or do you do something else to help pay the bills and what is it?

Nope, I have a proper job when I’m not in my bee costume. I only sell to cover costs and don’t make much pocket money from my generous alter-ego.

6. We love your benevolent stance – giving some of your work away. Why do that?

The whole concept was to give work away. When I had my initial amusing idea I thought about tagging the city in bees. Couldn’t get motivated to do that, didn’t really see the point. Sat down and started to think about the idea, then realised, that if I was going to do something, I wanted to engage people who don’t know anything about art, and get people out looking at the city.

Started in January 2012 and in September 2014 I set up the shop. At my sale prices I worked out that I’d in effect given away over £27,000 worth of stock. Obviously, it doesn’t cost me down but I needed to think of a way to generate some income.

Since September 2014 I’ve given away 50% or more of each edition and sell the rest at affordable prices in my online shop.

I constantly do work for charities and freebies for people. Personal people with an idea, local businesses, large charities. My nominated charity is The Christie. I think anyone that lives in Greater Manchester has known someone who has been through the hospital, and the fantastic work they do. Before I started to sell sometimes people wanted to give something back so I would ask them to make a donation to The Christie. It’s all a drop in the ocean but it matters. I recently customised a pizza box of crazy Pedro’s pizza for an auction for The Christie. I give my work all the time for auctions and events. At the childline ball one went for £650.

7. What inspires your art from day to day?

Anything and everything. I had an idea reading the Manc evening news. I had one walking round the streets of the Northern Quarter. Sometimes a fan gets in touch with the suggestion of an idea or a quote. The Quotes 2 poster has several from fans listed alongside some classics. Pure Gold was brought to my attention this way.

8. Is Manchester any good at art?

We have a lot of creativity in the city. There aren’t many commercial galleries ,like there are in Glasgow,for the size of the city and such a creative community.

9. What makes Manchester such a great creative city?

The people.

If you look at influence in industry, music, football, technology, education it is massive. For some reason people are drawn here. But the synergy of creativity is powerful.

10. Who, living or dead, would you most like to capture in art and why?

I’m doing a series on our famous Mancunians… The first one I’m doing is Tony Wilson as a drawing. Is the first time I’ve told anyone this…

11. Is it ever too late to do what you love to do rather than what you have to do?

Never. I’m with those people that just does things. You have an idea you make it happen. I have all the trappings of routine of regular life as we all do, but I use creative energy to carry me into new realms all the time. I don’t see boundaries between convention and ideas.

If you want to do something of your backside and go and do it. If we only live once there is no point regretting having not done something. Be who you want to be. I know the bee in me.

Concept and questions: Simon Donohue

Answers and main image: Mancsy